We’ve seen Google Android OS, Google email, and Office-like apps, and we’re expecting to soon see Google smartphones, Google TV, even Google self-driving cars. But now, the search engine giant is dipping its toes into the manufacturing industry with Google robots.
A New York Times article on Wednesday noted that Andy Rubin, the brains behind the Android operating system, is heading up an effort to develop robots. The robots are targeted for manufacturing, assembly, and warehouse tasks.
Over the last six months, Google has acquired seven technology companies, presumably to fortify its entry into industrial robotics. The NY Times article speculated that the targeted industry is electronics. This may be a handy development since Google purchased the mobile phone business from Motorola in August 2012, instantly making the company an electronics manufacturer. Plus, the company has been experimenting with package delivery for its Google Shopping service.
Google may also end up in the TV set-top business as it edges closer to a robust Google TV offering. The company may produce the TV itself with a Google operating system embedded. The move would be a powerful way for Google to blast Adwords-type messages into a huge media world.
Since the article appeared, Google has kept quiet about the program, acknowledging it only in a brief statement by CEO and Co-founder Larry Page in a blog on Thursday. “I am excited about Andy Rubin's next project. His last big bet, Android, started off as a crazy idea that ended up putting a supercomputer in hundreds of millions of pockets,” stated Page. “It is still very early days for this, but I can't wait to see the progress.”
The move was characterized by Google as a “moonshot,” an internal company term for a wild shot at new technology. But the entry into robotics may be bit more clever than an offbeat tech exploration. The 50-year-old Rubin began his career in robotics, and meanwhile, Google is moving ever nearer to becoming a major hardware producer.